INDIANAPOLIS — There were 256 total picks in this year's NFL Draft, and, just like every season, there were hundreds of prospects hoping they did enough in their college careers — as well as in pro days and private workouts — to become one of those coveted selections.
Some of those prospects, of course, are lucky enough to be selected in the draft. But many more, for varying reasons, aren't as fortunate.
The next step after the draft for the prospects who fall into the latter category is to try to catch on as an undrafted rookie free agent. A good number of those players actually field offers from multiple teams and can choose where they sign, while others are oftentimes left to be brought in by a team, usually on a tryout basis, and then try to earn a spot from there.
For the better part of the last two decades, the Indianapolis Colts have excelled at not only finding future stars in the draft, but also identifying those players who weren't selected who could come in and not only earn a roster spot, but become productive members of the team across multiple seasons.
In fact, the Colts have had at least one undrafted rookie free agent on their initial 53-man regular season roster for each of the last 19 seasons.
Could the Colts make it 20 straight years in 2018?
There are certainly a few names to watch as the team gets ready for training camp, which begins July 25 at Grand Park Sports Campus. In fact, Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton graded every NFL team’s undrafted free agent haul last month, and gave the Colts an "A" for signings that include wide receiver Steve Ishmael and linebacker Skai Moore.
So here are a few names to keep an eye on as the roster battles begin brewing next month in Westfield, Ind. Also, keep in mind: the team currently has 12 undrafted rookie free agents on its 90-man offseason roster, so those not listed could very well be making quite the impression, as well:
» Wide receiver Steve Ishmael: When you break records previously held by Marvin Harrison, that certainly will get the Colts' attention. Ishmael did just that at Syracuse, as he finished as the program's all-time leader in receiving yards (2,891) and he placed second in school history in 100-yard receiving games (10) and receptions (219). At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, Ishmael adds nice size to the Colts' wide receiver corps, and hopes to turn in a solid training camp and preseason to try to force his way onto the team's final depth chart.
» Tackle Jared Machorro: Machorro comes from a small school (Division 2 Texas A&M-Commerce), but there's certainly nothing small about this 6-foot-6, 302-pound tackle. During offseason practices, the Colts commonly had Machorro working in at right tackle with what could be considered their "second-team" offensive line, and because general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich have expressed their desire to have as many as 10 offensive linemen on the 53-man roster, that means a guy like Machorro will certainly get a serious look as a key piece of depth up front.
» Linebacker Skai Moore: Moore was one of the more coveted undrafted free agents this offseason, and chose to sign with the Colts over several other opportunities. With the Indy defense moving to a 4-3 base scheme, quality linebacker play will be at a premium, and the Colts need guys who can do it all — something Moore proved he was more than capable of during an impressive career at South Carolina that saw him compile 353 tackles (20.5 for a loss), 5.5 sacks, 20 passes defensed, 14 interceptions (tying a school record), three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Moore was seen earning increasing reps, some with the "first team," with the Colts during offseason practices, a good sign that he'll be in the mix for opportunities come training camp and the preseason.
» Safety George Odum: Odum, a standout outside linebacker and defensive back at Central Arkansas, certainly made an impression during the Colts' offseason practices, collecting a couple interceptions and a fumble recovery in the sessions viewed by the media. With Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers and Ronald Martin limited or not participating in varying degrees this offseason, could Odum take advantage and earn a spot on the final roster?